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Surge in lay-up enquiries eclipses financial crisis - WSM

Photo: Wilhelmsen Ship Management wsmlay-up.JPG
Enquiries for lay-up services have surged in recent weeks to eclipse even that seen during the global financial crisis in 2009, according to Wilhelmsen Ship Management (WSM).

WSM operates its own lay-up services for clients in Labuan, East Malaysia and is seeing a large number of enquiries coming from across almost all sectors of shipping as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the demand for international shipping.

“We have given offers to 50 – 60 vessels in the last couple of weeks, that’s the highest we’ve ever received in such a short period of time,” Carl Schou, president and ceo of WSM, tells Seatrade Maritime News in an interview.

Currently the ship manager has over 30 vessels either already in lay-up, or due to come in, which compares to a peak of 73 during the financial crisis, and Schou comments, “I hope for the industry we don’t get there”.

At present the majority of enquiries are for warm lay-up with periods of 3 - 6 months, although the manager is now starting to requests for up to 9 – 12 months as well.

Labuan is seen as an ideal location for lay-up and is sheltered from typhoons and there are low currents in bay where vessels are anchored. “One of the advantages we have in Labuan is we have total port infrastructure and we can offer all the services, and of course Labuan is class certified,” he explains.

WSM offers both warm and cold lay-up services and sees that its experience operating vessels brings it and advantage in managing the process. “We know how a ship runs, we know what it needs, we know what happens when it stops and goes into cold lay-up. All of this we are doing daily.”

The current situation with COVID-19 of course creates its own challenges even when it comes to lay-up. “Of course the crewing side of it is a huge challenge because a number of these places are still locked down – they won’t let crew in, they won’t let crew out. Some places won’t allow cold lay-up right now,” Schou explains.

The anchorage in Labuan for lay-up is a shared facility with the largest players WSM and International ShipCare along with several other smaller providers, and slots are essentially allocated on a first come, first served basis.

As such if owners want to lay-up their vessels what are seen as “ideal locations” such as Labuan WSM urges them to start the process early.

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